September 19, 1997: Speckled Trout Aircraft Mishap

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  • Air Froce Flight Test Center

The Speckled Trout aircraft, a C-135C used as a combination executive airlift and advanced avionics/communications test bed, suffered Class A damage due to a catastrophic engine failure while landing at Naval Air Station Point Mugu. Although the Number 4 engine seized with such violence that the engine mount failed, there were no injuries. An Air Force Flight Test Center team repaired the extensive damage on site, in only three weeks, at a cost savings of approximately $805,000. This also avoided a lengthy visit to Combat Logistics Support Squadron, and enabled the aircraft to meet its scheduled Periodic Depot Maintenance date.

"Speckled Trout was the primary transport aircraft for every Air Force chief of staff since General David C. Jones (July 1974 to June 1978)," said Gen. Bruce Carlson, Air Force Materiel Command commander. "Not only has it transported distinguished people ... there are countless examples of technological advantages that our warfighters have reaped as benefits from the work that has been done on this great airplane."  C-135 tail number 61-2669 rolled off the assembly line in 1962, and began its service for the Air Force as a weather reconnaissance aircraft.  In 1975, the aircraft became part of Project Speckled Trout and served primarily as overseas transportation for Air Force chiefs of staff. The Speckled Trout has also been an intricate part of many test programs at the Air Force Flight Test Center.

The Speckled Trout aircraft added that the aircraft's various features, such as extensive communications equipment, a boom pod and distinguished visitor facilities, will lead to better training for students.  "It involves so many of our people," said Mark Smith, training manager. "The boom operators, the flight attendants, the loadmasters, just about everybody can look at it. It just enhances the training experience. It's difficult to put a dollar value on that."

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